You saw the mid-November headline on the Observer's front page:

"Hurricane smacks coast." And if you were here on the Peninsula when the big storm struck, you experienced the howling winds and soaking rain first hand.

We read the headline, too, when the Observer arrived in the mail, but we weren't here when the fierce winds swept the coastline, toppling trees, tearing at roofs and signs and smashing power lines in many parts of the Long Beach Peninsula.

We read about the extensive damage with great interest, because we have a beach home in Seaview. We had listened to coastal weather reports on television and were apprehensive. Did our house have any damage in the big windstorm?

We have six or seven large trees on the back lot, any one of which could cause extensive damage if it crashed down on the house. But the trouble was, when the storm hit we were more than 100 miles away, back in Portland at our primary residence, far away from the beach and the house we know so well. All things considered, I think it would be more reassuring to be here at the beach when storms hit, rather than worrying about it from afar.

Of course we were concerned about our Seaview house and how it weathered the big storm. Did the wind uproot one of the big spruce trees and smash it down on our roof? Fortunately, nothing that bad happened and we were reassured by an e-mail from our full-time Seaview neighbors, Tom and Marilyn Stiver.

As they reported, our beach house had survived another bad storm with no damage. Aside from a yard strewn with wind-blown branches, all was well at our house on K Place.

Things didn't go as smoothly, though, in the windstorm of a year ago. That mid-December blow caused considerable damage on the Peninsula and blew down part of a large hemlock tree in our front yard, crushing one of our favorite shrubs and narrowly missing the Stiver home next door.

The tree blown down was a major trunk of a unique three-trunk hemlock, one of our favorite trees on the front yard property. The trunk landed smack across a tall and stately camellia bush, actually a camellia tree and the most showy shrub in our yard, wiping out a couple of smaller rhododendron bushes in the bargain.

We weren't sure then whether the camellia would ever recover, but the surviving portion of the large shrub looks much better this fall and we hope it produces lots of blossoms this coming spring. This particular variety of camellia has a delicate pinkish white blossom which we enjoyed every spring.

That windstorm nearly a year ago also blew down a 25-foot section of fence on our property, cracking off a couple of posts set in concrete and tilting the fence sections at a crazy angle. The fellow who built the fence for us repaired the damage with no great trouble.

This time, though, we were spared any damage, much to our relief. Actually, we don't lose a lot of sleep worrying about winter storms. People who have property near the coast learn to expect windstorms every winter and go with the flow. Fortunately, most of the winds aren't as strong as the "hurricane force" winds approaching 100 miles an hour that we had this time.

Early on we took some precautions to guard against wind damage. Not long after we bought our beach house, nearly 25 years ago, we had most of the big trees on the property limbed and that has helped keep the trees from swaying too much in strong winds.

Other than that, the smartest thing we can do to protect against storm damage is to keep our home owners insurance policy paid up in good standing.

Glenn Gillespie, a retired news media manager for PacifiCorp, divides his time between Seaview and Portland.

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